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SpaceX capsule, packed with supplies, set to return from station

October 27, 2012|By W.J. Hennigan
  • The Dragon spacecraft is grappled by the space station's robotic arm.
The Dragon spacecraft is grappled by the space station's robotic… (NASA )

SpaceX's Dragon space capsule, currently on the first contracted mission to resupply the International Space Station, is scheduled to return to Earth on Sunday afternoon.

At 12:20 p.m. PDT, the capsule is set to splash down in the Pacific Ocean about 250 miles west of Southern California.

It will be the culmination of the mission carried out by the Hawthorne company, which is officially known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. The spacecraft delivered 882 pounds of cargo to the station earlier this month.

The mission is SpaceX’s first of 12 such cargo missions under a $1.6-billion contract with NASA.

The Dragon is set to return with 1,673 pounds of cargo and its departure from the space station was set to be webcast on NASA TV starting at 4 a.m. SpaceX's website will also carry a webcast of the mission.

The spacecraft will separate from the space station using the station's robotic arm and release at 6:25 a.m.

The craft is set make its way back to Earth by firing its Draco thrusters to de-orbit. Once the Dragon enters the atmosphere, it will deploy parachutes to slow its descent into the ocean.

There will be no live NASA TV coverage of Dragon's reentry and splashdown. Updates will be available on NASA and SpaceX Twitter accounts.

The craft is set to remain afloat until it's retrieved by ship.

If successful, it will mark the third time that SpaceX has launched a space capsule into orbit and had it survive a fiery reentry. The company previously pulled off the feat in test mission in May and December 2010.

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